In March, 2007 Mossad
agents raided the Vienna home of Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission amid US and Israeli concerns over Syria's nuclear program.
The information the operatives recovered was damning: Roughly three dozen color photographs taken from inside a building under construction in the desert of northeastern Syria
indicated that it was a top-secret plutonium nuclear reactor.
According to an exposé by The New Yorker's David Makovsky, the photographs showed workers from North Korea at the facility, and the reactor, from the inside, had "many of the same engineering elements as the North Korean reactor in Yongbyon."
In the days after the discovery of the Syrian site, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
"began hosting important meetings at his official residence, on Balfour Street," Makovsky wrote.
In April, the article said, the White House
was informed about the discovery. The Bush Administration felt that it "didn’t have enough evidence to justify a preemptive strike on the Al Kibar reactor, and so the Israelis began preparations for an attack on their own. The IDF,
the Mossad, and the Foreign Ministry all favored a low-signature attack on the reactor.
"Just before midnight on September 5, 2007, four F-15s and four F-16s took off from Israeli Air Force bases. Using standard electronic scrambling tools, the Israelis blinded Syria’s air-defense system. Sometime between 12:40 and 12:53 am, the pilots indicated that 17 tons of explosives had been dropped on their target," according to the article.
Israel has never admitted to attacking the reactor.